1,800-year-old mosaic discovered in ancient Anatolian city of Perge

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1,800-year-old mosaic discovered in ancient Anatolian city of PergeThe ancient city of Perge has been dubbed as “Turkey’s second Zeugma” for the alluring appearance of the mosaics that have been discovered so far.

A 1,800-year-old mosaic, which showed the sacrifice of Iphigenia, the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra during the Trojan War in Greek mythology, was discovered at excavation works in the ancient city of Perge in Turkey’s Mediterranean region.

Perge excavations head and Antalya Museum Director Mustafa Demirel noted a new mosaic was unearthed when the archaeological team was working to open a shop in the west wing of the site.

“We have found a 1,800-year-old mosaic that depicts the sacrifice of İphigenia during the Trojan War in the city of ancient Perge. This finding, which makes us quite excited, was unearthed when we were working to open a shop in the west wing. We have found out that this was a sacred cult area,” he clarified.

Iphigenia was the legendary daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra in Greek mythology.

While the Greek army was preparing to set sail for Troy during the Trojan War, Agamemnon caused the anger of the goddess Artemis, because he killed a sacred deer. Therefore, she decided to stop all winds, so the ships would not be able to sail. The seer Calchas realized what the problem was and informed Agamemnon that to appease the goddess, Agamemnon had to sacrifice Iphigenia to her. Reluctant at first, Agamemnon was forced to agree in the end. He lied to his daughter and his wife by saying that Iphigenia was to marry Achilles before they left.

The mother and daughter happily went to the port of Aulis, only to find out the horrible truth. Achilles, unaware that his name was used in a lie, tried to prevent the sacrifice, but Iphigenia ultimately decided to sacrifice herself in honor and of her own volition. The most popular version of what happened afterwards is that in the moment of the sacrifice, the goddess Artemis substituted Iphigenia for a deer, but Calchas who was the only witness remained silent. Iphigenia was then transferred by Artemis to the city of Tauris where she became the goddess’ priestess.

Discoveries in Perge

The ancient city of Perge has been dubbed as “Turkey’s second Zeugma” for the alluring appearance of the mosaics that have been discovered so far.

The city of Perge is situated 17 kilometers east of Antalya, within the borders of Aksu. The important monumental structures of the city have been excavated since 1946 and due to the excavated sculptures, the Antalya Museum has one of the greatest collections of Roman sculptures.

Perga or Perge was an ancient Anatolian city in modern Turkey, once the capital of Pamphylia Secunda, now in Antalya province on the southwestern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Today, it is a large site of ancient ruins 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) east of Antalya on the coastal plain. An acropolis located there dates back to the Bronze Age.

Perga was an ancient and important city of Pamphylia, between the rivers Catarrhactes and Cestrus (Turkish Aksu Çayı).

A treaty between the Hittite Great King Tudhaliya IV and his vassal, the king of Tarhuntassa, defined the latter's western border at the city "Parha" and the "Kastaraya River". The river is assumed to be the classical Cestrus. West of Parha were the "Lukka Lands". Parha likely spoke a late Luwian dialect like Lycian and that of the neo-Hittite kingdoms.

Perge returns to history as a Pamphylian Greek city, and with Pamphylia came under successive rule by Persians, Athenians, and Persians again. Alexander the Great, after quitting Phaselis, occupied Perge with a part of his army. The road between these two towns is described as long and difficult. Alexander's rule was followed by the Diadochi empire of the Seleucids, then the Romans.

Perge gained renown for the worship of Artemis, whose temple stood on a hill outside the town, and in whose honour annual festivals were celebrated. The coins of Perge represent both the goddess and her temple.

In 46 A.D., according to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul journeyed to Perga, from there continued on to Antiocheia in Pisidia, then returned to Perga where he preached the word of God (Acts 14:25). Then he left the city and went to Attaleia.

As the Cestrus silted up over the late Roman era, Perga declined as a secular city. In the first half of the 4th century, during the reign of Constantine the Great (324-337), Perga became an important centre of Christianity, which soon became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The city retained its status as a Christian centre in the 5th and 6th centuries.

Read more here.

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Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: Saffron Blaze License: CC-BY-SA

Source: Anadolu Agency

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